By Susan Goodman
Almost certainly the main influential determine within the historical past of yank letters, William Dean Howells (1837-1920) was once, between different issues, a number one novelist within the realist culture, a formative effect on a lot of America's most interesting writers, and an outspoken opponent of social injustice. This biography, the 1st finished paintings on Howells in fifty years, enters the attention of the guy and his instances, revealing a sophisticated and painfully sincere determine who got here of age in an period of political corruption, business greed, and American imperialism. Written with verve and originality in a hugely soaking up variety, it brings alive for a brand new new release a literary and cultural pioneer who performed a key function in growing the yank inventive ethos.
William Dean Howells traces the writer's existence from his boyhood in Ohio ahead of the Civil conflict, to his consularship in Italy less than President Lincoln, to his upward push as editor of Atlantic per month. It seems at his writing, which incorporated novels, poems, performs, kid's books, and feedback. Howells had many strong friendships one of the literati of his day; and the following we discover an extremely wealthy exam of the connection among Howells and Mark Twain. Howells used to be, as Twain referred to as him, "the boss" of literary critics—his aid nearly single-handedly made the careers of many writers, together with African american citizens like Paul Dunbar and ladies like Sarah Orne Jewett. Showcasing many noteworthy personalities—Henry James, Edmund Gosse, H. G. Wells, Stephen Crane, Emily Dickinson, and lots of others—William Dean Howells portrays a guy who stood on the heart of yankee literature during the overdue 19th and early 20th centuries.
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Extra info for William Dean Howells: A Writer's Life
As daunting as it must have been to bring children into what seemed almost certain poverty, Mary had another baby in July of the following year, a daughter they named Victoria, soon nicknamed Vic (1838–86). She had ﬁve more children in rapid succession: Sam (1840–1925), Aurelia (1842–1931), Anne (1844–1938), John (1846–64), and ﬁnally Henry (1852–1908), whose mental inﬁrmity would keep him a child his entire life. In 1840, cries of “Tippecanoe and Tyler too” launched William Henry Harrison into the presidency, and William Cooper Howells moved once again, this time more luckily, to take over the Hamilton Intelligencer.
Mary, who had converted to and lapsed from an evangelical sect of Methodism, found herself caught between her husband and father-inlaw. William held his children to a strict standard. “We were made to feel that wicked words were of the quality of wicked deeds,” Howells writes, “and that when they came out of our mouths they depraved us, unless we took them back. I have not forgotten, with any detail of the time and place, a transgression of this sort. . ”37 William survived the curse and, true to his beliefs, pardoned his son, who acknowledged the transgression but still lived in fear of letting loose the evil spirits.
Red clover covered the site of the old homestead, and, before they left, the two gathered and pressed clover blossom to commemorate the visit. After an absence of ﬁfty years, his father felt a childlike joy, remembering every detail, every twist and turn of the road. Howells could not separate the loveliness of its views from the desolation. If he avoided the ghost of what he might have become, he tasted the despair that in his early manhood had laid him low. ”8 Howells found no remedy for the unﬁlled duty owed his father or for bittersweet reunions, but he could escape (and did as soon as possible) to his busy life in Cambridge, to his wife and children, house building, friendships, and work.